Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tuesday and Wednesday Jodi and I took a little trip to 马鞍山 (Ma'anshan) with a couple of friends. It was really just for the heck of it, all we really did was eat snack, play games, window shop, and go out for barbeque dinner. This is a shirt we found; if it hadn't been pink, I would have taken it home:

It had a picture of Mickey Mouse's head on the front, and said in cartoony lettering: Live Long And Prosper

Speaking of vacation, in less than three hours I'll be hopping on a train to Hunan. Yesterday Jodi and I went out and spent RMB 50 on snacks: water, fruit, sunflower seeds... Armed with that, a little bit of money for the so-so boxed train lunches, a portable DVD player, a deck of UNO cards, and two good attitudes, we should be able to weather the 17-hour, overnight hard seat (!!!) trip.

I may not have computer access in Hunan, so maybe don't expect posts for a while. See ya!

Post On The Internet And China

If Yahoo! and the others packed their bags and left this country, freedom of expression would take a step backwards. By their investments in the Chinese Internet, foreign Internet companies have dramatically advanced freedom of expression for a quarter of the people on the planet.


The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry and the State-Council, issued last Sunday new regulations on the Internet. At first glance it looked like a marginal update of restrictions that are already in place since the year 2000 and limits the scope of news sites to a large degree to repackaging news that has already been published by the printed state-owned media. But details emerging on Monday, beyond the original Xinhua dispatch indicates that the new regulations are not only a marginal revamp, but include new restrictions that indicate where China's leadership sees new threats.

Fons changes his analysis when new information emerges regarding Xinhua's opaque announcement about Internet regulation here in China. But this was not as big a surprise for people who read CNBlog:


Can the sound of a well-oiled machine be disturbing...?

Monday, September 26, 2005

I wrote up a couple of posts on Shanghai's new metro lines on Shanghai Expat today. The second was really a masterpiece of research and translation (heh, not really) so I quote it here:

The circular dark purple line is Line 4. A web search turns up a fascinating article about Line 4, Shanghai's loop line. The beginning of the article talks about how the opening will be in two stages, first in a C shaped subsection of the line running north from Pudong and then onto a shared track with Line 3, and then in a completed circle down through Luwan and back into Pudong. Together with Lines 1 and 2, it will form the shape of the character 申, which is part of the alternative name for Shanghai 申城. Pretty cool. The article is here: (Chinese)

The first half of the Line 4 (the C-section, hehe) was projected to be completed by year-end 2005 in this article from May. The entire loop line would be completed by 2007, according to their estimates. The reason that the bottom of the loop will open late is because of an accident that happened back in July of 2003 on the construction of the line. Read about it here: (English)

Never underestimate the slowness of construction workers; word on the street is that Dongfang station will be closing for an entire year.

For Line 2, I turned up a weblog post that mentions a 2007 completion date and 2008 opening date. The post: (Chinese)

I have on my computer an English translation of all the bus lines, but that's a little personal project of mine that may see the light of day sometime... if anybody wants access to the data, let me know. Here's an example: (Chinese) (English)

Hehe, I ♡ Shanghai public transportation.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Someone at the book swap made a disparaging comment about weblogs that write entries about what they have for breakfast. So I'll add a disclaimer to this entry: this one is mainly for the fam.

I had a busy weekend this week, sorta. On Friday morning I lazed around while Jodi was at work, and then she and I met up with one of her friends from Hunan who is also in Shanghai. Then we took a taxi down to North Sichuan Rd, a major shopping street, and hit up our favorite cheap hotpot place, 傣妹. This place has three floors of tables, and we got the last one! They were packed! We had a nice time talking about random things, and about our upcoming trip to Hunan.

Saturday I slept in while Jodi went to work. This sounds like a disturbing pattern, but the fact is that I'm in a really weird stage of my life where I'm unemployed but still find myself waking up—and getting up—naturally at 8am every morning. So Saturday I finally got up at about 9am, used the computer for a while and then grabbed a bunch of books, fifteen of them, to take to the first Shanghai Book Swap. I got there a bit late, but the party was just getting info full swing.

Lots of people showed up!

Brad complained that we had bad taste in books but I thought we were semi-succesful, and some people promised to bring more "literature" books next time. I traded away about half my books and came away with a classic Chinua Achebe, a couple Murakami in Chinese, and a pop history of Shanghai, among others.

At that point I left with Joon, and while he went back to his apartment to run an errand I pressed on to the Shanghai Theater Academy for the big concert called "Melodic Funk and Shanghai Underground Super Music Rock Festival".

The venue was huge.

Sounds cheesy, bu it was great: ten bands, seven hours, covering a range from punk, rock and fusion to death metal. The auditorium was huge, maybe 400-500 kids were there for the free-admission gig. Asa made it just in time to see the all-girl punk outfit, and Joon showed up at the tail end of Cold Fairyland's encore-ended performance. As Megaphone was tearing up the stage, I left because I got a text that Jodi was getting off of work. I headed up to her place, and we had a nice dinner of fresh take-out wonton from the place up the street.

On Sunday Jodi was working again in the morning. Yes, that is a disturbing trend: she is working too much. We're working on that; vacation is being looked forward to. I stayed home and worked out a bug on the wiki Recent Changes listing on the homepage—friggin' Perl Unicode support, grr—and then hopped on the light rail up to Hongkou Stadium for the game between local sweethearts Shanghai Shenhua and possible league champions Dalian Shide, at the invitation of fellow Shanghaiist writer, Scot Cameron Wilson. The game was incredibly exciting, and that was amplified by the fans around us because Cameron's contact got us seats in the back of the section occupied by the Blue Devils, Shanghai Shenghua's peña. They lit flares, beat drums, and chanted 大连变成傻屄哗(?),现在后悔来不及吧 as the final minutes ticked down to Shanghai's 2-1 win. (Cameron wrote a piece on it for Shanghaiist.)

At this point, Jodi messaged me that she was done getting her hair done with a friend, so I took the 21 down People's Square and we walked to Asa's favorite restaurant for a cheap dinner of 糖醋鱼片, 刀豆烧炒土豆, and 咸肉冬瓜汤 (sweet and sour fish, green beans and potato in brown sauce, and cured meat & winter squash soup). As we walked back to the 21, we shared a cup of pearl milk tea.

So now I'm back at Jodi's for the evening and writing this up. This week I've gotta start moving my stuff over to Jodi's house for temporary storage, look for housing, and clean/wash stuff for the trip to Hunan. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Jodi and I are taking a small side trip to a mountain called Ma'an Mountain for a quick vacation with a friend, and then will have a day to rest before boarding the train on Thursday for a seventeen hour trip to her home province. High speed! That's life in Shanghai.

On the way back from the concert yesterday, I stopped by the bus stop to pick up a couple bao zi to snack on and they were advertising half-price for certain buns, the reason being that they had broken open during the cooking process. The word "reason" had been written:

A new simplification that I'd never seen before.

Which is a little extreme, I think, since the standard spelling is already pretty simple: 原因.

(I've written about hyper-simplified characters before.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

I'd like to invite my Shanghai friends to the Book Swap that John is organizing tomorrow. I've got my books picked out already. It's also a chance to make some new friends. Coolness.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Incidentally, the day before yesterday Jodi and I stopped by the train station and picked up two tickets to Changsha, leaving on the 29th. The trip will last 17 hours and they only had seat tickets left, despite the fact that tickets went on sale that morning.

We will be out of Shanghai for the entire week of the National Holiday, getting back on the following Friday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I leave this comment on TalkTalkChina:

Someone hasn't learned the 你下车吗 technique.

I'll be a dissenting voice and say that I love taking the bus. I love swiping my card by the reader as I watch other, less frequent riders digging in their pockets for change while the bus veers wildly and leaves them grasping for a hold of the rail. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing your way around the city on the dozens, if not hundreds of bus lines that run the streets. I love riding the late-night 300-series buses for the cast of characters that pile in and either fall asleep or watch vigilantly for their stop. And I love the sense of false comraderie that I feel when I see another foreign face riding the bus, knowing that both of us have put in the time and effort to recognize the hundreds of characters that it takes to decipher the bus stop signs. Especially now that the Shanghai metro has raised ticket prices, I have even more of an incentive to use the bus; it's great. I guess I just like the pros more than I dislike the above-mentioned cons.

But then, riding the bus does have its own rules of etiquette, so I'm not surprised that someone who rides it only "when the summer heat becomes unbearable" finds that it's like, hey, visiting a foreign country!

I'm not saying that everybody should like riding the bus. I'm just trying to give some reasons why a person who has never ridden it might consider it as an option.

Woo! I got a scoop, and then a post published on Shanghaiist.

I realized a couple days ago that I never did a cellphone-photo round-up for August. So here it is:

Early this month, Jodi's throat was giving her trouble and so we went to the hospital to get medicine, and of course they prescribed a saline drip! So we got to sit around in this room for a couple of hours playing pen-and-paper games, reading the paper, and watching the other patients get their drips changed. Exciting.

This is a concert! According to the calendar, this was Qiying and friends playing at Harleys, a rocking concert except for the lack of of Xuanwumen, which we forgive because...

...Blood Horror put on an amazing show; Xiao Yu came out with the front of his shirt soaked in a red, blood-like liquid, and then tore the house apart. Now that man is true metal!

The night of the concert was also the night that Shanghai's first typhoon of the season passed through town. This picture doesn't really capture it, but the rain as coming down thick and strong. Chris and I got soaked walking to find a taxi.

Doh, stuff is fading into the background of my memory. All I really remember is that Jodi and I capped off a date with half-off ice cream at Raffles City and taking pictures in front of the Madagascar display at the 和平影城, ie the Peace Cinema.

One night, Asa invited Chris and I over to help him move out of Suyong's place and into his new apartment. Afterwards, he took us out for pizza at the New York Pizza place across from the Jing'an Temple, and then Lindi arrived and...

...we went dancing at Madame Zung's. I left early to share a taxi with Lindi, but I hear Asa and Chris stayed until the last call. Nice!

At Burger King: a Whopper combo with double cheese, please... No, not two Whopper combos with cheese. Sigh.

One night I did my sometimes-weekly dinner with Chris, and Jodi came along. Chris recommended a Korean place at the entrance to Doulun Rd that was a little expensive, but served pretty good food.

Contrary to what it may seem like, we don't eat all our meals out. Here's a scrumptious homemade meal that Jodi put together (with a little help from Micah): french fries, sausage fried with greens and hot peppers, purple veggie and egg soup, and something I don't recognize. But I'm sure it was delicious!

OK, enough relaxing. Time to get to work! This involves:

Teaching class.

Watching others teach class.

And going out with co-workers... eat crayfish. Not my favorite dish, mostly because your hands get real oily and dirty. For me, the best part of the meal is washing my hands at the end.

This summer I came up with a simple game where the kids do different dances/chants depending on the card I pull out, and then freeze when I pull out a special card. Then I use my camera/phone to take pictures of the kids with the best poses, and let them see the photo as a reward. Here are some results:

(↑ my favorite)

Feeling too silly? How about...

An evening class meets on the campus of Shanghai Finance University, near Jodi's place. Boooring!

Ah, Dashan. What can I say, I'm a fan.

But not I'm still more of a fan of Cold Fairyland. After this particular concert, we went out for dinner and plotted how to get even with Harley's for snaking Yuyintang's equipment. Heh.

So that's it for August. See you (real) soon for September's wrap-up. (and remember that all these photos are stored and available for viewing anytime on my Flickr account)

Out of carelessness, I left a half-cup of soy milk out on the kitchen counter for a couple of days. As I was pouring it down the sink just now, I thought it smelled like something familiar. Then I realized: 臭豆腐!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Asa's latest is a keeper:

I believe that what's important in life is to be happy. I believe that being happy almost hands down includes sharing that with some, and includes accomplishments of some kind. That being said, I think that being the best person [that you can be], and making life good for you and yours as best you can, is more important that any work you could create, unless maybe the work itself REALLY managed to help others accomplish that goal.

I love those kinds of posts. I gotta write up a response (also to Erik's latest).

Monday, September 19, 2005

So I meet this Indonesian amatuer hacker in the SDF chatroom today while I'm hacking on my homepage, and he asks me for my Friendster profile. I realize that I haven't used it in a while, so I look it up. At the bottom of my profile page, I see a box labelled "Popular searches in my network." The top search is garbled, "蔡依林裸照", so I hover the mouse over it to see what the actual search term could be. It turns out to be Chinese:


So... 1) it's a good thing my grandparents can't read that, and 2) I guess I don't know my friends as well as I thought I did... or do I?

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Wubi Wiki Recent Changes! Look on the right-hand side of my homepage, in the third column under the list of links, and you'll see a list of the pages that have changed recently on the wiki that I host on this server.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The view from the Tromblys' balcony is *fantastic*.  Why was I at the Tromblys' place last night?

Will I be the first to blog about the Shanghai Webloggers Meetup that happened last night? We'll see!

Who was there:

Apologies to anybody I missed. So it was a pretty impressive turnout. The journalist community was well represented, and of course I always feel intimidated because they know so much about what's going on in Shanghai and the rest of the world, but it's fascinating to eavesdrop on their conversations. And tonight I wasn't totally useless; I did get to contribute a little about what I've been doing on

What we discussed:

  • Podcasting.
  • eBay buying Skype.
  • Skype blockage in China.
  • Shak's weblog.
  • The coffin business.
  • Setting up a webpage for the group.
  • Pollution.
  • Search/SEO status on the "Chinese web".
  • The upcoming Chinese Bloggercon.
  • Saturday's "Back in Shanghai" bash.

I mentioned to Tek that I still hadn't reached a good solution for portable digital recording. I'm excited about going to Hong Kong, it looks like I'll just be picking up a cheap Minidisc player. I was excited to talk to Joon about music in Shanghai; he was asking some great questions, and made me want to be back on broadband and catching up on the newest beats. Shak was exciting, and his excitement is infectious; I'm glad we'll both be attending the 2005 CEIBS Investors' Forum on Saturday.

As you can see, the Shanghai Webloggers Group is EXCITING. Lots of good ideas flowing around, and people of action hooking each other up with opportunities. Nice! It's a group that I'm proud to be a part of.

Today is the day that metro and light rail ticket prices go up. What was once an RMB 3 ticket to Jodi's house is now an RMB 4 ticket. Let's compare what this means when I load up my value-storage card with RMB 100 (about USD 12):

Before: 33 one-way trips, and RMB 1 left over for hot, crispy youtiao on a cold winter day.

After: 25 one-way trips, and no youtiao for a cold, shivering, miserable, lonely Micah.

See what I mean? Painful!

I stayed off the Internet for a few days, and it was great.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I've actually done a pretty good job explaining to people why I became disillusioned with fiction as literature, preferring auto-biography (and weblogging!). And now I don't need to write it down, because Nowheresville has done it for me:

I thought about what I don't like about Christian fiction, generally, and it is this. We can't put words in God's mouth. We cannot pretend to know the mind of God. We are lying if we say we can know why he decided Aunt Jen would have faith in him but Uncle Ted would think Aunt Jen was nuts. And this is what most Christian fiction writers are doing. They are pretending to be God in that they determine the actions of God.

Fiction is false; God is the only author of reality.

So KFC really came off looking bad in China a few months ago with the scare over a certain coloring agent in their food. In order to pick up and dust off their reputation, they've launched a new campaign that emphasizes how they are changing to fit China by creating a New Fast Food strategy. I wonder how us Americans are supposed to feel about this, given that the image of American consumers painted in the new advertising is pretty, uh, pretty unflattering. From a placemat I picked up on my last visit:

A Comparison of Traditional Western Fast Food and the New Fast Food
KFC's definition of Traditional Western Fast Food
KFC's definition of New Fast Food
Single selections, less choice.
A variety of foods, uniting western and Chinese flavors, creating many more options to choose from.
Mainly fried foods.
A choice of several cooking methods.
Few vegetables, Westerners don't like them.
More types of vegetables in order to appeal to the Chinese tastes.
The same products throughout the year.
Continuously bring out new products.
Encourage eating more.
Encourage responsible consumption and a balanced diet.
Follow American food safety standards.
Construct Chinese food safety standards.

Actually, given the growing waistline of the average American, maybe I agree with the above portrayal of American fast-food consumers!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Made a mix-USB-stick for Jodi:

  1. Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz - Desafinado
  2. Bikini Kill - Bloody Ice Cream
  3. Blue Six - Always (Lazy Dog Deep House Music Mix)
  4. Chemical Brothers - Got Glint
  5. Cornelius - Mic Check
  6. Everything But The Girl vs Soul Vision - Lazy Dog Bootleg Vocal
  7. Fischerspooner - Invisible (ectomorph remix)
  8. Getz & Co. - Girl From Ipanema
  9. Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing
  10. Lazy Dog - The Spiritual Groove (Hard steppin' dub)
  11. Lazy Dog - Kerry Chandler - Isis
  12. Le Tigre - Deceptacon
  13. Luomo - Tessio (Moonbotica_Remix)
  14. Meshell N'Degeocello - Earth (Ben Watt Lazy Dog Remix)
  15. Namie Amuro - Lovin It feat Verbal
  16. Outkast - Hey Ya
  17. Papas Fritas - Way You Walk
  18. Pizzicato Five - The Earth Goes Around
  19. Rahzel - The Lesson Part 1 Ft. the Roots and Dice Raw
  20. Rahzel - Godfather of Noise
  21. Richard X feat Kelis - Finest Dreams
  22. SWV - Can We
  23. The Shins - Saint Simon
  24. Timo Maas - Shifter

It's a tentative, exploratory mix.

Another Shanghai Public Transportation date: on September 15th the price of metro and light rail tickets will rise by approximately RMB 1.

This is a big deal because it raises the lowest-priced metro ticket, soon to be RMB 3, to a strata above the bus system's most expensive standard ticket, RMB 2 for riding an air-conditioned bus.

Oh man, the "Back in Shanghai" party this Saturday at the Tromblys' place sounds like the Shanghai social event of the year. If you want more details, I can forward you the very amusing invite e-mail. Just give me a buzz.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's a beautiful day in Shanghai. What am I doing inside? Bye!

Cottony white clouds are floating behind the Pearl Tower.  That's my destination.

It's back on! It looks like we will have an honest-to-goodness weblogger meetup again next Thursday. Thanks to chinasnippets getting the ball rolling on the Yahoo Group mailing list, and the blessing of Father Fons, we now have several people confirmed, several people confirmed absent but interested, and a set time and location (老时间,老地方). Details on the calendar.

We're a motley crue.

Some background/historical info: the Shanghai Webloggers Meetup group was started by Fons sometime last year, and succesfully met once a month over the proceeding eight or nine months. Out of the group came an online collaboration/discussion with a journalism prof from a Hong Kong unversity, a visit by a new media specialist from the US, the beginnings of an iPod-centric online Shanghai radio station, hours of discussion on journalistic ethics and weblogging technology, lots of yummy pizza (big ups to our hosts the Tromblys), and several new friendships and acquaintance-ships. Over the summer, due to the departure of Fons from Shanghai and the general scattering of people over the vacation period, the group has not met.

I'm on the edge of putting in an Amazon order.

The The 5th China Internet Summit at West Lake is taking place in Hangzhou tomorrow. Speakers include Bill Clinton, Mark Yang, and Jack Ma. I can't find information about pre-registration on the English site, nor on the Chinese site. Is anybody up for (possibly) crashing it with me? The welcome address starts nice and late, and it ends at a reasonable hour, so we could train it up to Hangzhou in the morning and make it back to Shanghai in time for Cold Fairyland at the Ark. Let me know by AIM, e-mail or preferably cell.

DOH! I was wrong. It is actually being held today, so don't bother with this idea. Like Fons, I will just watch the recordings of the thing later.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A few nights ago fireworks were launched from the neighborhood across the street again, and I managed to snap photos of four explosions out of probably a dozen. Tonight I used some image editing software to merge them together (GIMP, layers, Lighten Only). It didn't turn out as cool as I would have liked, but it's still pretty neat:

I live on the 17th floor.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So I had a little server trouble. The company I was using got bought out, and the new company decided to switch us to their own servers. They sent out an e-mail telling us where to switch to, with a deadline of about three weeks. Of course, I ignored it and when I was finally forced to switch three weeks later I found that the new server contained simply a copy of my old server as it was at the the time the e-mail was sent out! So I lost like, three weeks of data. I'm hopping mad, and all tech support can do is give me one month credit.

That gives me one month to look for a new host, which I will do because 1) they didn't bother to guarantee that it wouldn't happen again, and 2) since I signed up for this server, the market has gotten more competitive and better deals can be found.

Thankfully, I was able to restore some of the more important data thanks to Flickr and the Yahoo Search cache. Still, super-annoying.

I need to figure out how to say "Virtual Private Server" in Chinese... (oh, it's 虚拟专属主机; that wasn't hard)

Public Transportation Dates: the line 8 exchange at People's Square will open next year (2006) on June 11th, and the KFC at Caoxi Rd light rail station will open on the 13th of this very month.

I had some extra time today after (my last day of) work, so I took the 703 back to Shanghai Stadium from a school out in boonies because I knew it would pass through the neighborhood I taught in every morning last semester, which is still pretty much out in Shanghai's boonies. The whole city in that area below Xinzhuang looks a lot more "finished" now than just 6 months ago, very green and full of people. It's amazing how fast this place is changing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fun With The Chinese Language

Seen in an SUS2 forum thread:


Oh yeah!

Via TalkTalkChina and also all over Shanghai/China:


I pointed this out to Jodi on a walk through the SISU campus and got a chuckle out of her.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Plucked from a comment on John's weblog, a link to the New York Times piece on the Supergirl TV show: The Chinese Get the Vote, if Only for 'Super Girl'. Check this out:

China's runaway summer hit, "Super Girl," ended last weekend with a television viewership that eclipsed the population of North America. State news media reported that more than 400 million people watched the finale of the show, an "American Idol" knockoff, and saw a frizzy-haired music student from Sichuan Province selected as the winner.

Four hundred million? That's what, 6% of the population of the Earth. Still not as large as the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final's cool 1.7 billion, but nearly equal percentage-wise: 30.6% of China watched the Supergirl final, while 28.8% of the world's population in 1998 watched the World Cup.

From a co-worker, I hear that some kid spent RMB 40,000 buying SIM cards to vote for the winner, Li Yuchun. That's what, more than four thousand US dollars; more than the average Shanghai urban employee makes in a year.

Heh, I love numbers.

Yuyintang posts their response to the the Harley incident on the SUS2 boards: 育音堂关于Harley’s事件的公告. No corporate heming-and-hawing here, just a few kind words for the place, and then a clean break. Booyah.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I wrote a review on ShanghaiExpat of today's metal concert at the Ark:

It rocked.

They put the guests as openers, and hometown metal groups as headliners and it worked great. I thought both Beijing groups were just OK; I mean, they had stage presence but all their songs sounded the same. Fortunately, both Qiying and Sizui rocked in their own ways. I thought Qiying was much improved from their last show at Harley's, not sure if it's just the Ark's sound system of if they really have been spending time practicing or if the singer just decided to let loose a little or if they gave more time to the guitarist, who has some serious skillz. Still not the greatest prog rock group in Shanghai (玄武门!!) but taking serious strides. But it was Sizui who brought the energy in the audience to its zenith; Sizui is really Shanghai's most professional metal band, though Xuejing gives them a run for their money. All band members are master craftsmen of their instruments, and the singer manages to vary it up enough to give the songs personality. I overheard at the end of the show that they will have a CD out soon, for now all they have is a demo with a few songs and they don't bring copies to their shows.

I love the Ark, I just wish it wasn't so expensive. My Yuyintang membership got me RMB 10 off, though. Woo! member 148!

I'm uploading picts as I type...

res.tar.bz2 100% |*****************************| 644 KB 00:00

Here we go:

Sizui rocked the crowd.

Went out for sushi with Asa afterwards. Going over to Jodi's soon to watch the current Korean soap, 巴黎恋人.

The shit hits the fan, ie the controversy over Harley's "treatment" of Yuyintang staff and equipment hits the SUS2 forums in a thread titled 抵制哈雷酒吧的一切演出, "Boycott All Performances At Harley's Bar":


Personally, I think every fan of rock is afraid of this kind of thing happening...
I never would have guessed it would be the thugs at Harley's that look down on rock fans... and look down on underground rock concerts...
They keep Yuyintang's equipment hostage...
Anyways, I've been dissatisfied with Harley's for a while now...
Let's just boycott them...
Likewise, let's frown on any announcemtns for concerts at Harley's...
And any events at bars, for that matter...

See, Yuyintang had teamed up with the owner of Harley's ("Rambo", hehe) to hold their concerts on Harley's stage. But Harley's music equipment is pretty low quality, so Yuyintang in the form of Hai Sheng of Ark fame brought in a bunch of their own/borrowed equipment to supplement Harley's original stuff. Then on the 27th of August after the Cold Fairyland/Hanggai concert, the bands had gone out to dinner and the staff at Harley's started calling Hai Sheng to come back and do the sound for a party afterwards that was not run by Yuyintang. Well Hai Sheng declined, and the Harley staff was not happy with this. So when Hai Sheng came back to pick up some equipment to take back with him, he got into a scuffle with a bunch of Harley folk, including Rambo, and ended up with some minor injuries to his face (that I saw myself). Not only that, but in the end he didn't get the equipment back.

Anyways, that's the story I heard from Hai Sheng, Lin Di, and Asa.

Of course, I lend my support. And write this post. Harley's big birthday bash is coming up on the 10th. Guess whether I'll be going.

In Praise of the Casual Friend

I'm leaving my job soon, so on Thursday I had a couple of teachers come and observe classes that they will be taking over for me. Chris is basically my replacement at Melody, and will be taking over my Thursday morning class. Peggy is a teacher at the Melody-affiliated kindergarden on Changshu Road, and was asked to take over my duties at the preschool off the number 5 light rail line that we service.

I've worked with Peggy a couple of times before, and I see her around the office occasionally when we have too much work for our normal teaching staff to handle and need a competent teacher to cover a few classes. What I enjoy most about working with Peggy is the conversations we have. She's French, so we have a European upbringing in common. She teaches preschool and enjoys it even though it's often a taxing job, pretty much my attitude as well. She's a good one-on-one conversationalist, a role that I've been working on for several years and I think I've made lots of progress with that. Finally, Peggy has a great attitude towards Shanghai and lives in a charming housing project full of Chinese retirees in the French Concession, and her optimism for and interest in the city is both infectious and encouraging. So the hour spent commuting out to the boonies of Xinzhuang on Friday was full of friendly, encouraging conversation.

One of the things I miss living in Shanghai is the casual friend. Not that I'm getting tired of Asa, Chris or John. But I do get tired of expecting so much from a person just because he is one of the only five or six (or seven) people you can really relax with in a city full of people who don't share your language and culture. For example, now that John is working hourly for Melody—and much of that will be from home—we will actually have to make a concerted effort to see each other, whereas back in the States I might have a tech-minded friend who I happen to work with no matter what job I'm doing, or who I see regularly at the library or in other serendipitous circumstances. Instead, I have to expend effort and make a commitment of time and long-term emotional involvement just to get that kind of interaction.

Which is cool, but I feel like there's an imbalance in my social life towards this kind of high-commitment friends. And when you make more then 3 or 4 of those plus having a girlfriend, it starts putting strains on your time allotment. So that's why I appreciate having a day out with the kind of person with whom you just happen to fall in, but with whom you can still just relax and chew the fat.

[Addendum: John seems to be good at juggling lots of friends and contacts, but in an honest way. I should ask for tips.]

Friday, September 02, 2005

I whipped up a feed last night and this morning for the weblog of Chris_B, Tokyo photographer and commenter on Marxy's weblog.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

LJ user qingdaomitch has this to say:

Everybody I've talked in the states since I arrived in Guangzhou have asked when will I come back or if I'm homesick. When I answer probably never or just for vacation, or I'm not homesick, they start questioning why I would do such a thing, or as one person put it "aren't you scared to be there that long?" Scared of what, getting service on a Sunday like you said, of being able to walk a block to get everything I need rather than a 10 min drive, of seeing something other that strip malls and Wal-marts (at lest for the time being), or experiencing what's really out there in person rather than through an image or from a couch.

Don't panic. I bought two phone cards today.